In an attempt to solidify its position as the premier Spec Ops force in the Indo-Pacific, the Australian Special Operations Command (SOCOMD) will be receiving a $3 billion boost to enhance its technological, infrastructural, and manpower capabilities.
More specifically, the Australian government greenlighted the funds, which will be distributed over a period of 20 years. This, of course, doesn’t mean that Australian the Special Operations Forces (SOF) will not receive additional funding over that period. The $3 billion refer specifically to Project Greyfin, as the fund infusion is named. Project Greyfin includes Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), improved personal protection systems (for example, body armor, eyewear, ear protection, etc.), weapons and weapon enhancements (for instance, rails, suppressors, optics, flash suppressors, and lights), and communications devices).
SOCOMD is comprised of the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR), the 1st and 2nd Commando Regiments, and the Special Operations Engineer Regiment (SOEG). The 1s Commando Regiment is a reserve unit that complements its active-duty counterpart with individual or larger-size reinforcements.
The second prong of Project Greyfin plans for the procurement of insertion, extraction, and transport capabilities. This will include advanced parachutes (static-line and freefall), diving technology, and helicopters.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a press conference during his visit to the 2nd Commando Regiment that “the sorts of things you see around me today, these are the sorts of things that are going to be upgraded as part of that half-a-billion-dollar commitment over the next four years. And over the next 20 years, we will see it go through another generation of heightened technology, heightened levels of research and innovation to ensure that we have the best possible capability for them to do the most dangerous of jobs.”
The Australian government’s rationale behind this investment is that SOF offers a low-cost, high-result option to policymakers. Indeed, SOF units are ideally suited to deal with emergency contingencies, domestic or international, such as hostage rescues or counterterrorism operations.
Recently, the 2nd Commando Regiment showcased its readiness to respond to any contingencies in series of hostage-rescue and counterterrorism training scenarios. The exercises saw the Regiment’s Tactical Assault Group-East (TAG-E) responding to a series of contingencies within Australia.
The Australian counterterrorism force is centered on TAG-E and its counterpart Tactical Assault Group- West (TAG-W), which is manned by SASR operators. Depending on the operational environment, however, clearance divers from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and SOF combat engineers from the Special Operations Engineer Regiment (SOEG) are often additions to the TAGs in counterterrorism operations. Although the Regiment does possess some organic combat diver capabilities, clearance divers are more qualified for the sensitive role of disarming explosives in a maritime environment.
“Our special forces, now more than ever, need to be ready and able to deploy on operations anywhere in the world, at short notice, and in very uncertain conditions,” said Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds. “This first stage of funding enables our special forces to engage with intelligence, science and technology, and innovation organisations to ensure future threats and opportunities are assessed, to make sure we are delivering them the capability they need in the future.”